Another Oliver + S Pinwheel Slip dress

This little slip dress is a gift for a different niece of mine. I made it up in a lovely remnant of Nani Iro. I love this Oliver + S pattern so much. It’s not only great for using up pretty little scraps, but it is also such a fool-proof pattern for when you want to sew for others. I love the fact that it looks great as a little dress, but if you miss the mark slightly with the sizing or fabric print, it could also double as a practical Summer nightie.

 

Like before, I made this dress up in a size 5. My exceptionally tall Miss Five is modelling it but her slightly older cousin is a lot more petite. I think the dress will fit the her cousin perfectly.

 

This kid seriously out-cools the rest of the family. I want those sunglasses!

 

 

 

 


Kwik Sew 1034: Refashioning Daddy’s Ralph Lauren sweater

This great little sweater actually started out as one of Daddy’s big Ralph Lauren sweaters. There wasn’t much wrong with it in the first place, but he kept wearing holes in one of the elbows. I darned it a few times, but on the last occasion, it was either an elbow patch or a complete refashion.

 

 


I used Kwik Sew 1035 to make a sweater out of it for Miss Six. It was an incredibly quick and easy sew because I utilised the existing knit waistband and arm cuffs instead of sewing my own. I cut away the holey parts of the sleeves and added contrast bands of a different wool knit. I was even able to conserve the little Ralph Lauren Polo horse in cutting the front bodice, but only just!

 
 
 
 
The skirt she’s wearing is the bottom half of an Oliver + S Hide and Seek dress that I made a while back. The dress accidentally snuck into a hot wash with towels and the wool portions of the sleeves and bodice shrunk. All I did was to cut off the bodice and add an elastic encased waistband. The change turned it into a simple A-line skirt with fabulous side welt pockets. It’s actually become one of her all time favourite pieces (as you can probably see from the wash fade and wrinkles). I will purposefully make this modification of the pattern again in the future now.

Japanese pattern bubble dress in Nani Iro

So this little dress was actually intended as a birthday dress for Miss nearly-Five. Miss Six-and-a half is wearing it in the photos. The fabric is a Nani Iro border print in double gauze cotton, which is beautifully soft and pretty. It is also fully lined in a combination of silk habutai and silk jersey (scraps from my previous projects). The combination of fabrics make this the most deliciously cool and swishy Summer frock. Try to ignore the sewing threads and cuttings on the floor behind the pretty cherub.

 
I used a pattern from one of my Japanese pattern books. I adore my Japanese pattern books but I do find it tricky to get the sizing right at times. Sizing is by height of the child, as far as I can understand.This works reasonably well most of the time, but sometimes I miss the target in trying to negotiate for my very tall girls. I got it wrong this time. I knew the dress would be big, but not quite so swimmingly big that it is.  
 

 
 

On Miss Six, the dress is roomy, but it still fits reasonably well. Thankfully, the middle sister hasn’t seen the dress yet, so I can still replace it with a better fitting one. In the meantime, Miss Six LOVES her new little bubble dress, especially the little side pockets for her treasures. I love the pretty little faux pearl buttons that fasten up the back. And we both agreed that we would wrap up the dress, place it under the Christmas tree and ‘forget’ about it until the big day.
 
 

Winter white or brights?

I know Winter white is a bit of a trend this season, but I think I took the Summer White trend to the max, and quite frankly, I’m a little bit over white right now. In fact, I’ve been lusting after all shades of purple and deep pinks so when I saw my white wool trackie pants hanging in the wardrobe the other day, I knew they were destined for a dye job. I also wanted to update their style a little.

 

Despite being (dry-clean only!) wool suiting, reckless-Debbie had still prewashed the pants fabric prior to sewing. The prewashing changed the texture of the fabric slightly. It also meant that I could happily launder them or dye them, to my heart’s content. My first attempt at dying them didn’t work, but only because cautious-Debbie was trying to be gentle with the fabric by keeping the water cold. The dye just didn’t take. So I let reckless-Debbie back in the house. She threw caution to the wind, bumped up the temperature to scalding, added vinegar with the salt, and the wool dyed beautifully. The fabric did not shrink or change at all.  


I also refashioned the pants a little by:

  • cutting away the silk lining, because this took up the dye too strongly and it was dark beneath the pants
  • unpicking the outside leg seam to widen the legs as much as possible for a more trouser-like look. Wide leg and flared pants are very hot right now.
  • cutting off the elastic cuffs. I sewed in some new cuffs to lengthen the pants a little, but these were dyed in a separate batch (as an afterthought) which accounts for the different shade. I might still shorten the cuffs a little because these pants are meant for flats.  


I’m super happy with these pants. I love the way they look layered with my Nani Iro top. It’s such a snuggly, comfy outfit and it makes me especially happy to know that I can now wear my Nani Iro beyond Summer. I feel like I’ve done my dash with white at the moment. What colours do you have on your sewing table right now?

 

Corduroy culottes: another Esther shorts hack

I’m here to convince you that culottes really are the new skirt. And I’m not talking about the cute little flippy variety that could be mistaken for a skirt. I’m talking about the hard-core, wide leg, knee length type, or the sharp, A-line, midi silhouettes that are probably giving some of you unpleasant flashbacks right now. I admit, I get the flashbacks too. My high school sports uniform was a pair of bottle green, knee-length culottes (that memory came flooding back to me when my ‘blue’ corduroy arrived in the mail). But don’t worry, I’m quite determined to sway all you doubters out there, and to do so, I’ve put together not one, not two, but four different looks with the same pair of fabulous winter weight culottes.

For Autumn, I’ve paired them with my Nani Iro top and a pair of open booties. A long pair of tan leather boots would look fabulous right now, but I don’t own any and I spend all my spare cash on fabric instead of shoes. Can anyone else relate? 

The fabric I used in my culottes is utterly divine. It’s a cotton corduroy by Thread, with the most beautiful velvety sheen I’ve ever seen. It’s called ‘blue’ but it is most definitely a bottle green. I knew what I was getting though. It’s nothing like the dull kiddie quality cord that I’ve sewn with in the past. I should have paid more attention.


I do all my fabric cutting and sewing in the evenings in poorer light than I would like, but that’s just the way it has to be. I don’t have time to sew during the day. So I happily cut into my gorgeous fabric, positioning the legs in opposite directions and paying complete disregard for the nap. I merrily sewed away at the project until I tried my culottes on to decide on the hem length. The lightbulb suddenly went on in my head. Nap! Why did I not consider this first? I thought I’d made a total blooper of these pants. One leg was clearly a different shade to the other.

I think the difference in nap looks more pronounced in artificial light, and from my persepective as the wearer, looking down at an acute angle. It is such a silly mistake to make that I still feel like giving myself a slap. Anyway, they are so comfortable and warm that I’m just going to wear them anyway. I think it’s pushing it a bit far to call it a design feature so I’m just going to feign ignorance. What, my legs are different shades of bottle green? No way! It’s a shadow. Go get your eyes checked!

For view two, I opted for a more vintage feel. I’m wearing my Liberty of London Kanerva with them this time.

 


The pattern I used to make these culottes was based on the Esther shorts pattern by Tessuti Fabrics. My modifications were pretty simple. I added a 10cm pleat to the front legs. I also widened and lengthened the legs. I really like how they turned out but next time I will definitely add in-seam pockets.

I also tried my culottes out with my new favourite shirt. I like chambray with cord. Hubby isn’t too sure about this combination. He can’t decide whether I look like Anne of Green Gables, a school mistress, or Brethren. 

 
 
 

And finally, I paired the culottes with my black ponte and leather top for a slightly more edgy look. I like the silhouette of a cropped top over high waist pants. 

 

Here’s a summary of the four looks. Which one do you like best? And more importantly, when are you going to make a pair!
 
 

Hide and Seek dresses for Scraptember

The Hide and Seek dress pattern by Oliver + S is a fabulous dress for scrap-busting. Let’s forget for a second that it is a beautifully designed play dress and look instead at all those fabulous panels that can allow for so much fabric mixing creativity.

I’ve made Hide and Seek dresses for both of my older girls recently (here and here). This time round, I used up the last of my Nani Iro and double-faced wool on the dress for Miss Six. The lining of the back bodice is wool as well, which should keep this little peep warm in Fall. The back skirt is leftover from here and the pretty dotted chambray is a small remnant I picked up from Tessuti Fabrics many, many moons ago.

 

 


 

Miss Four got a more summery version of this dress because her current summer wardrobe is in a pretty sorry state.

 
 
 
 

With our move to Kansas, we’ve had two back to back summers and some of her clothes have been in constant rotation since September 2013! I used an old linen pillowcase for the front and back of her skirt. The pillowcase lace makes for a very pretty back hem. Unbelievably, I picked it up at a garage sale for only $1.50.

 

 

 

 

 

Cynthia Rowley vs Nani Iro

Oh Nani Iro! I have Novita to thank for drawing my attention to this amazing fabric. As soon as I saw this print, I just had to have it. It is a super soft, double gauze cotton that just cries out to be snuggled. I purchased mine online from Miss Matatabi, but I know Tessuti Fabrics have also recently stocked up on some unique prints.


The print I chose is just so beautiful and vibrant that only the simplest of styles was going to do. I used a Cynthia Rowley pattern, Simplicity 1366. I cut the top in a size 12 and made some pretty standard modifications (for me):

  • 5/8″ broad back adjustment
  • added 1″ bodice length
  • added 1″ arm length

I actually think this top would look amazing in silk as the pattern suggests, but it works pretty well in soft cotton too. As I said before, I am absolutely smitten with this Nani Iro print. I’m also pretty impressed with the sleek design of the pattern. The length of the top is just perfect. It looks great worn out and it is long enough to tuck in without causing any bulk under my pants. In fact, I had so much trouble deciding which look I liked best that I had my twin help me out with the photos.

 


I always find it amusing to watch the response of my family when they see my new makes. My girls are predictable. They see bright colours or anything floor length and they gasp in awe. I don’t consider them a challenge, but I do hope that seeing my experiments will open their eyes to different styles and get them thinking. 

My husband is way more interesting. He likes classic styles, clean lines, quality fabrics and shapes that flatter a female form. But he also has a weakness for the unconventional, which means he can surprise me at times with the clothes he likes or chooses. I know he finds some many of my makes a little unusual, particularly when I experiment with asymmetry, atypical hem shapes or boxy silhouettes.

Hubby loved this top immediately. He thought the fabric was unusual, but striking. The clean, simple lines of the top also met with his approval. However, he can’t say the same about the wool coat that I’ve recently finished. It may be the ultra wide sleeves or cocoon shape that is tripping him up. But I can pretty much guarantee he has been looking inside it and turning it over to see how I’ve made it. I love that he finds what I do interesting, even if he happily agrees that he is often baffled by my choice of shapes and styles.